California's Military Led Crackdown on Cannabis Warns of Dark Days Once We Legalize it Nationally

“If you have permits, you should be okay.”

That is the awkward summary we’ve been given by Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Samantha Karges after Emerald Triangle residents expressed concerns about military style Blackhawk helicopters performing low, intimidating sweeps of the region on Monday of this week.

In an interview with a homegrown community news outlet, Karges also confirmed the fact that the California National Guard has been deployed to Humboldt County to assist local law enforcement with an ongoing cannabis eradication campaign that she says will last throughout the summer.

This week’s wargame is just the latest in a string of similar joint operations since Governor Gavin Newsom announced this past February that he would be pulling troops from their posts on the California/Mexico border and instead tasking them with taking down the state’s plethora of unpermitted pot farms. This is the tip of the spear in a $200,000,000 pledge by Gov. Newsom to crack down on the unregulated cannabis market that continues to thrive post-legalization.

Although there are a lot of military veterans working in the field(s) of cannabis these days, you don’t need to be a vet to get wracked with PTSD symptoms anytime you hear the thumping blades of a Blackhawk chopper coming over a ridge – especially if you came up cultivating cannabis in NorCal.

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Bootlicking prohibitionists are quick to comment that “If you’re not breaking the law, you have nothing to worry about” but one anonymous cannabis farmer in the Briceland region of Humboldt County claims that the same National Guard chopper that was stoking fear all over the area on Monday surveilled her legal garden, coming in so low that the vegetation was whipping around on the ground. She literally held her permit in the air and watched as the spurned sky snitches turned and did a similar sortie over her mother’s property next door where not even a tomato is planted.

Asked about encounters like this, Spokesperson Karges somehow managed not to burst into a fit of cynical laughter when she replied that these farmers must have just randomly been “in the flight path” of the helicopter and that the mission coordinators only send the helicopter to addresses already cross-referenced against the state’s lists of legal businesses and their associated properties. In other words, “Don’t believe what you see, pothead, believe what we say.”

But we’ve seen this scenario play out a handful of times already – from further south in the notorious Anza raids in Riverside County earlier this year, to a National Guard-assisted operation just a couple of weeks ago at the end of June in neighboring Trinity County. The fact remains that the vast majority of established cannabis farmers in the Emerald Triangle have not made the jump into the legal market but still have plants in the ground today. If history repeats itself as it often does, Monday’s chopper surveillance will be a precursor to an eminent ground assault by Call of Duty clad buzzkillers.


Folks like Samantha Karges will claim that thundering choppers roaring through the hills flying way under FAA altitude regulations, and trained killers from the military, and their just as gung ho counterparts from local law enforcement agencies, all packing enough heat to invade Canada, are necessary due to the potential threat of weapons located on the properties that they raid.

Now, I have been writing about cannabis for many years, and an essential part of that task is constant research. Though the odds would say that it must have happened at some point somewhere by now, I honestly cannot remember ever reading or hearing about a shootout between the cops and a cannabis farmer willing to make his last stand in that fashion.

The fact is that raiding a pot farm is about as easy a day in the office as any of these cops or troops could ask for.

We’ve been led to believe that Gov. Newsom’s eradication plan is a noble effort to seek and destroy foreign drug cartels who have trespassed onto public lands to pollute the soil and water to feed the illicit cannabis market with poisoned pot.

Do those rogue grows exist?


Should they be cleaned up?


Are careless cartels the only ones watching their farms get uprooted by camouflaged soldiers?

Absolutely not.


The legalization of cannabis has been successful at one thing for sure, and that is driving a wedge through the heart of the cannabis culture, pitting those that chose to get legal on one side of the argument, and those that have chosen not to on the other, all while the prohibitionists prod both sides to fight each other more viciously.

The $200 mill that Newsom has allocated for his crackdown is being funded by the permit fees and tax revenues that have trickled into the state’s coffers so far from sales of legal weed. Some on the unregulated side of the market are expressing extreme anger at not just the regulators, and not just those that voted for Prop 64 back in 2016, but even at those that have since decided to play the hand they’ve been dealt and went legit. They say that anyone holding a cannabis license from the state of California is bankrolling the raids on their neighbors.

I suppose in the most simplistic way of thinking, this is technically true, but couldn’t you split the same pistil about any of the atrocities committed by our government domestically or globally if you are a tax paying citizen, or even if you just use public roadways?

The problem is that these extreme eradication efforts by the state are not just netting “bad guys” and toxic grows. Most unregulated/unpermitted/illegal grows in the Emerald Triangle are managed by generational stewards of the earth who have spent decades cultivating the plant and taking pride in protecting their land, not poisoning it.

Tight knit communities are losing these respected members and farms and we are starting to see blame cast out wide as a result. Alternatively, many of those who did dive into the legal market are now barely treading water financially and they too are looking around for someone to point the finger at. These days, more than ever, it is so important for farmers on both sides of the regulatory fence to resist the urge for division.

Someday, the United States of America is going to end the prohibition of the cannabis plant and if we see a “crackdown” like this on a nationwide scale, then, in my opinion, we are the ones who lost the War on Weed.

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